Author Archive | Good German

Down With Western ‘Democracy’!

GodBlessAmericaAndre Vltchek writes at CounterPunch:

A specter is haunting Europe and Western world — it is this time, the specter of fascism. It came quietly, without great fanfare and parades, without raised hands and loud shouts. But it came, or it returned, as it has always been present in this culture, one that has, for centuries, been enslaving our entire planet.

As was in Nazi Germany, resistance to the fascist empire is again given an unsavory name: terrorism. Partisans and patriots, resistance fighters – all of them were and have always been defined by fascist bigots as terrorists.

By the logic of Empire, to murder millions of men, women and children in all corners of the world abroad is considered legitimate and patriotic, but to defend one’s motherland was and is a sign of extremism.

German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as ‘democratic’, and so does this Empire.

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Intersectionality Isn’t Just a Win-Win; It’s the Only Way Out

PIC: Russavia (CC)

PIC: Russavia (CC)

Henia Belalia writes at Waging Nonviolence:

In 2012, the Pachamama Alliance, a U.S.-based organization working in partnership with indigenous Achuar people in Ecuador, published a meme showing two native men discussing a new “scientific discovery”: the fact that our world is deeply interconnected. The joke, of course, is the idea that these scientists could “discover” a concept that is age-old wisdom for indigenous peoples across the world. I was delighted by the two-fold genius of the cartoon, the way it both highlights the importance of understanding the world we live in while pointedly calling out the dangers of cultural and intellectual appropriation. 

This question of intersectionality isn’t the first time that science is playing catch-up to traditional knowledge, and it won’t be the last. As Pachamama Alliance’s accompanying blog explains: “Scientific research is bringing knowledge of the natural world full circle, offering biological and theoretical authority to the enduring truth of indigenous wisdom.” Yet, among all of these enduring truths, intersectionality is one of the most central.

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All the World’s Oceans Have Plastic Debris on Their Surface

1271349466-plastic_patchVia ScienceDaily:

The Malaspina Expedition, led by the Spanish National Research Council, has demonstrated that there are five large accumulations of plastic debris in the open ocean that match with the five major twists of oceanic surface water circulation. In addition to the known accumulation of plastic waste in the North Pacific, there are similar accumulations in the central North Atlantic, the South Pacific, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.

However, central surface waters of the oceans may not be the final destination of plastic debris since, as indicated by the study performed by the Malaspina Expedition, large amounts of microplastics could be passing to the marine food chain and the ocean floor. Results of the study, led by the University of Cadiz (Spain), have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Andrés Cózar, researcher from the University of Cadiz, explains: “Ocean currents carry plastic objects which split into smaller and smaller fragments due to solar radiation.

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“Crucifixion of Christians”: Debunking the New Fake News Item

Media LiesWell, if you consider two months ago “new” fake news.  From Sirialbano, translated by Mary Rizzo, at We Write What We Like:

They were not Christians, they were Muslims. They were not killed by means of crucifixion, but their already lifeless bodies were exhibited in that barbarian manner.  The crime is ghastly, no matter what religious denomination the victims belong to.  And yet it “news” of “Christians crucified in Syria” went viral in the western media, in particular in the major Italian news media.

The two major Italian newspapers Il Corriere della Sera (above) and La Repubblica (below) dedicated a great amount of space to it, bring attention to the “news” on the first page accompanied by photographs of “a man crucified in Maalula”, the small Christian small town near Damascus.

To push the directors and the heads writers towards a similar editorial choice has no doubt been the statement of Pope Francis in the official Vatican site:   “I cried when i saw the news“.

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Hormones Affect Voting Behavior, Researchers Find

voting1Via ScienceDaily:

Researchers from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Rice University have released a study that shows hormone levels can affect voter turnout.

As witnessed by recent voter turnout in primary elections, participation in U.S. national elections is low, relative to other western democracies. In fact, voter turnout in biennial national elections ranges includes only 40 to 60 percent of eligible voters.

The study, published June 22 in Physiology and Behavior, reports that while participation in electoral politics is affected by a host of social and demographic variables, there are also biological factors that may play a role, as well. Specifically, the paper points to low levels of the stress hormone cortisol as a strong predictor of actual voting behavior, determined via voting records maintained by the Secretary of State.

“Politics and political participation is an inherently stressful activity,” explained the paper’s lead author, Jeff French, Varner Professor of Psychology and Biology and director of UNO’s neuroscience program.

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Gnosticism and Agnosticism

PIC: "The Compendium of Graces And The Fountain Of Charm" (PD)

PIC: “The Compendium of Graces And The Fountain Of Charm” (PD)

Fr. Troy Pierce writes at the Path of Gnosis:

One of the common misunderstandings when you tell people that you are a Gnostic is that they hear the more familiar word “Agnostic.” (This becomes quite amusing when they mishear “Agnostic Priest,” or “Agnostic Eucharist.”) This becomes a good opportunity to elucidate one of the truisms of contemporary Gnosticism: You have to be an Agnostic before you can become a Gnostic.

The original differences between agnostic and gnostic are the “privative alpha” of Classical Greek. This prefix functioned like “un-” or “non-” and thus linguistically the two words are opposites, literally ‘Knower’ and ‘Un-Knower.’ (incidentally, the “a” was the first syllable, and the “g” was pronounced in both.)

However, this is Modern English and not Classical Greek, and so both terms have come to have certain more specific meanings. An Agnostic has been jokingly called a “cowardly Atheist,” but is generally someone who knows that they do not know about the divine from the reports of others.

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How Do I Find Out If a Specific Conspiracy Theory Is or Isn’t True?

Pic: Steve Lee (CC)

Pic: Steve Lee (CC)

Rob Ager writes:

At this technologically sophisticated point in human history the scope for ordinary citizens to monitor power institutions and spread awareness of corruption is greater than it has even been. The average citizen has access to printers, email, DVD players and a multitude of other information distribution outlets. This has become a major problem for power institutions. The big brother surveillance society swings both ways and so now governments are having a major problem with what they consistently call “conspiracy theories”.

A few major difficulties have emerged with this new public monitoring of power institutions.

  1. Poor research has been widely disseminated on many conspiracy subject due to the limited investigative skills or personal bias of those doing the research.
  2. Conspiracy theory dissemination has developed a commercial edge; with some films and books being sold for higher prices than would be expected in high st retail stores.
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Want to Change the World? Read This First

260px-The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17Richard Heinberg writes at Common Dreams:

History is often made by strong personalities wielding bold new political, economic, or religious doctrines. Yet any serious effort to understand how and why societies change requires examination not just of leaders and ideas, but also of environmental circumstances. The ecological context (climate, weather, and the presence or absence of water, good soil, and other resources) may either present or foreclose opportunities for those wanting to shake up the social world. This suggests that if you want to change society—or are interested in aiding or evaluating the efforts of others to do so—some understanding of exactly how environmental circumstances affect such efforts could be extremely helpful.

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The Myth of Consistent Skepticism

Skeptical Pug is skeptical

Skeptical Pug is skeptical

Todd C. Riniolo and Lee Nisbet writing in the June 2007 Skeptical Enquirer:

Many readers of the Skeptical Inquirer (the authors included) have labeled or referred to ourselves as “skeptics,” which implies objectivity in our approach to evaluating various claims. However, we all have limitations and built-in biases that hinder our ability to apply the methods of skepticism objectively and consistently. Nonskeptics and professed skeptics alike are equally vulnerable to developing beliefs that have not been subjected to rigorous skeptical inquiry. Furthermore, skeptics (like nonskeptics) may refuse to change their viewpoints even in the face of substantial discrediting evidence.

Thus, skeptics would be well served to realize that we are selectively skeptical. Our purpose here is to (a) make clear why no consistent skeptic exists, (b) review the major biases that obstruct our ability to apply skepticism consistently, (c) provide a concrete example of selective skepticism in a great mind (Albert Einstein), and (d) challenge skeptics to reevaluate their own ability to apply the methods of skepticism consistently.

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